Some stories from the frontline..
Chaplaincy in Retail
from Lincolnshire Chaplaincy Services / Grimsby:
Mary Vickers, North East Lincolnshire Urban Industrial Chaplain, talks to the BBC’s Roisin McAuley about her Workplace Chaplaincy, and her support for staff through redundancies at BHS. (Interviewed by BBC Radio Ulster on 14 August 2016 for ‘Sunday Sequence’ programme).
from Swindon Commercial Chaplaincy:
“Over the last year, a small team of chaplains have been a support to a number of people in various situations. One chaplain, who was previously a midwife, met a young man working in a store whose partner was having a baby. He was often very concerned about the health of his partner and the baby and the chaplain often found herself reassuring the young man, then rejoicing with him after the birth of his child.
Another chaplain was there for a shop keeper with their own small business who discovered that a trusted employee had stolen from them. This left them totally devastated, as it put them at the point of losing the business. Because the chaplain once had her own business, she was truly able to sympathise and empathise with the person, plus provide practical help in supporting her when she needed to go and talk to people.
When a chaplain first visited a small shop, she was told she need not visit as they were perfectly fine and needed no support. Even so, each time the chaplain went on her rounds, she would put her head around the door just to say hello. One day when she visited, the shop keeper invited her in and said she was glad that she had come because she needed someone to talk to. It transpired that a distressing situation had hit the family and she needed someone to share it with. Now it is a shop where the chaplain always find a warm welcome.”
Chaplaincy on a building site.
from Churches and Industry Group Birmingham and Solihull
“Churches and Regeneration: As I walk around the Longbridge development, I see the paraphernalia of construction. I see concrete, bricks, mud and buildings. But construction is a creative process. Out of the once mighty Rover Plant a new entity is emerging. It is an entity that will give life and hope and aspiration to the people of Longbridge. It will bring business, commerce and hopefully, a vibrant economy to a part of the city that has languished for a few years.
When I visit the new housing developments I don’t just see remediation, mud, concrete, bricks and houses. What is being created, by skilled and dedicated construction workers, are houses, homes, a community. A community where people will live, work, raise families, go to school, experience trouble, divorce, sickness and death and birth and joy and hope and generations growing up and moving on.
A new organisation – ‘God’s Heart for Longbridge – has been set up to enthuse the churches to take ownership of what is happening on their patch – including what God is up to.. Part of that work is the sponsorship of a wider chaplaincy team – FE College Chaplains, Retail Chaplains, Construction Chaplains.. all on the site of the former factory..
When I am on site, construction workers often say to me ‘oh you’ve brought God with you today then!’ my answer is always ‘No He was already here, I’ve just come to work with Him today.’ It is a pleasure, privilege and working out of a vocation to be involved with the Longbridge Development” (By Stephen Plant)
Swindon Commercial Chaplaincy:
“Chaplaincy often comes about through good networking links and developing contacts with local businesses. It was via these type of links that Swindon had for some time a chaplaincy presence on one of the new building sites that were springing up in the area. Over the period, the chaplain built up good relationships with both the developers and workers alike, to the point of a real recognition of its value. The chaplain was seen as a trusted friend to all.
Many amusing incidents and conversations occurred over the time, and other times not so amusing but of very real life issues that affect all of us. There was one which was especially memorable. The chaplain was followed by a dumper truck for some 200 yards until the driver finally plucked up the courage to stop alongside the chaplain. What the driver asked for was prayer for his brother who was dying in the local hospice. It later transpired that the driver did not expect the chaplain to pray for his brother there and then, but was so grateful that they did. Though his brother died that evening, the prayer gave the family so much peace. The holy place that the driver thought was only in a church was found for him there on the building site.
Alongside the personal events through the chaplain’s connection, opportunities were made possible far beyond the life of the building site itself. The local churches had a vision for a church presence in the way of a Portacabin to be placed on the site from the moment the people took up residence in the houses. Nevertheless, they were making no progress with this venture with anyone who could give permission or land. This changed dramatically however, when the chaplain’s hard worked connections came into play. Through being in the right place at the right time and knowing the right people, the chaplain asked the right questions in the most influential places. Through prescient work and having a good reputation, the vision of the churches was possible. Very quickly negotiations took place and the Portacabin, with a minister, was located on the site.”
Chaplaincy to Industry
from Swindon Commercial Chaplaincy
A chaplain who visits an industrial workplace found that when they visited a certain office the same man walked out as they walked in. When they commented on it, his colleagues said not to worry about him as he did not like people and did not talk much. Over the years, the chaplain has continued to visit. The man’s attitude has changed completely, so much so that in October his daughter is to marry, with the chaplain conducting the wedding.
The chaplain believes the change came when various things happened in the company, when the chaplain was able to give helpful support.
Chaplaincy to Sports
Mary Vickers describes her role as a Sports Chaplain to the Olympics in 2012 and Paralympics in 2010. (Interview from BBC Radio Humberside August 2016).